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The SBD's tail fin securely mounted in its custom-built jig at Pioneer Aero's workshop in Ardmore, New Zealand. (photo via Pioneer Aero Ltd.)

Jigging up the SBD's Tail Fin:

The team at Pioneer Aero Ltd. has constructed a custom-built steel jig to hold the SBD’s tail fin. They designed this fixture to lock key points of the assembly in place to ensure everything remains correctly aligned during the restoration process. The team chose to orient the structure in an inverted position to make the riveting process easier during reassembly.

Fin Disassembly and Assessment:

With the fin firmly positioned within its jig, Pioneer Aero began the restoration process. The first order of business involved removing the skins to allow an initial assessment of the underlying structure. This revealed a level of internal corrosion more extensive than the assembly's exterior appearance had first suggested.

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This image shows the SBD's tail fin part way through the skin-removal process. The underlying structure shows signs of significant corrosion. (photo via Pioneer Aero Ltd.)
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The forward face of fuselage Frame 17 during the inspection process. The paint has been stripped, the deepest areas of surface corrosion bead blasted and the entire surface cleaned with a scotch disk. Further inspection will determine whether this component is restorable to airworthy condition. (photo via Pioneer Aero Ltd.)